Canonical CEO: Ubuntu tablet OS will battle Android, iOS

Jane Silber believes there's plenty of room for a new player in tablets, TVs, and maybe even smartphones

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InfoWorld: Do you have hardware vendors that are ready to do the Ubuntu tablets?

Silber: We are in conversation with multiple partners.

InfoWorld: Can you name any of them at this point?

Silber: I can't.

InfoWorld: Then the smartphones would follow the next year, this year?

Silber: The phones will follow, I don't want to put a specific timeline on that right now.

InfoWorld: Can you explain briefly the Ubuntu business model?

Silber: Ubuntu is free, and we sell services. Those services fall into a couple of different categories in terms of industry, services we provide to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and ODMs (original design manufacturers). We do a lot of hardware enablement, making Ubuntu work on machines as those products are developed, as they're coming out of the factories. We also provide the ongoing maintenance and updates for OEMs for any special custom products they make that are Ubuntu-based. We have another set of customers in the enterprise environment, so both desktop and server companies around the world are using Ubuntu in pretty large numbers.

InfoWorld: So you sell subscriptions?

Silber: It's a subscription sale. The product is called Ubuntu Advantage, which is a subscription-based service that includes the support you would expect.

InfoWorld: Why should a company want to use Ubuntu Linux instead of competitors like Red Hat Linux or Suse Linux?

Silber: Ubuntu is very strong in certain areas. On the server, we're very strong in any cloud-related deployments, both as a host OS or as a guest OS. We're very strong in what we call common workloads, so things like Web servers. Ubuntu is the most widely deployed Linux for Web servers worldwide.

InfoWorld: Why is that?

Silber: Partially because of the economics of it, that it is free. Partially because of the technical qualities of the product. It's just like our desktop -- we use the phrase "crisp and clutter-free." It's a just-what-you-need approach. We take that same kind of approach on a server, and that's what people want for Web servers. They don't want a bunch of clutter. So if you're doing anything cloud, if you're doing any of those common workloads, you're generally going to use Ubuntu on the server. It's the leading OS there. If you have a big Oracle database, chances are you're going to use Red Hat or Oracle Unbreakable Linux rather than Ubuntu.

People who are going to use Ubuntu are high-growth, Web 2.0, cloud-related deployments. Anything related to big data, Ubuntu is very well suited for, largely because a lot of that development is being done on Ubuntu and so all of those products work well on Ubuntu. The SAPs, Oracles, legacy workloads kinds of things, frankly that's not Ubuntu's strength. Depending on your use case, you may sometimes use Red Hat, but there's a lot of scenarios where Ubuntu is the leading OS there on the server and particularly cloud.

InfoWorld: What makes Ubuntu more suitable for cloud deployments than other Linux platforms?

Silber: We've been working on cloud technology from early on. We were quite early to the game of recognizing the value of cloud. You can very quickly deploy a cloud that has Ubuntu as the host OS, the infrastructure OS. Public clouds are also being built on Ubuntu. HP is developing a public cloud and that's built on Ubuntu. In terms of the guest images that run in a cloud, Ubuntu is very well-suited for that, again because we've optimized it to some extent to work in the cloud. But also we can address the economics of the cloud in a way that Red Hat can't. So if you're going to spin up a machine for two weeks -- the cloud is perfect for these bursts, this dynamic allocation of resources -- you don't want to buy a license for it.

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